Teamsters at the Twin River Casino took a gamble that solidarity could beat corporate greed at Twin River Casino. Now they’ve beaten the house.
The former Local 251 officers negotiated concessionary contracts that created three tiers of employees. The lowest tier of workers made just $2.89 an hour (plus tips). If they wanted family healthcare they had to pay for the coverage themselves.
This summer, Local 251 members at the Casino bet that a new approach to contract negotiations could pay off—and they won a new contract with higher wages, work rule improvements and affordable healthcare for members and their families.
Winning these gains took membership unity and creative tactics. When management refused to put a fair offer on the table, members Voted No.
Then workers took their case to the public. They leafleted the Casino and talked to customers. They
launched a social media campaign under the theme “Poverty Wages are a losing bet” that targeted fans of the Casino’s own Facebook page.
Local 251 joined forces with the Working Families Party, a grassroots political party of unions and community groups, including Teamster local unions.
Together, they launched an online petition to tell “Twin River Casino should pay its parking valets a fair wage and provide affordable healthcare coverage for their families.”
More than 5,000 public supporters signed the Twin River Casino petition in less than 24 hours. The day after the petition was launched, management sat down with the Local 251 bargaining committee and the Casino folded.
The new contract raises wages to $4.50 an hour (plus tips) and delivers affordable family healthcare coverage to workers and their families.
In addition, the new contract improves members’ rights and protections on the job, including
stronger job security, the right to honor primary picket lines, a better grievance procedure, fairer disciplinary policies, and improvements in union access, job bidding, seniority, and more.
Maintenance and shuttle workers at the Casino have also won raises and substantial increases to fully protect their pensions and healthcare.
“The Casino didn’t like us out front passing out information to the customers and they didn’t like the
publicity on the internet either,” said shop steward Ricky Rocha. “If we hadn’t taken action, we would have gotten nowhere. Instead, we won a good contract. It’s taken a long time but we’re finally making a positive change.”